Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?
And is it possible to remain truly happy after giving up something we loved to do?
This happens all the time.
My mom would never ruffle feathers by going back to work, when she knows my dad prefers her to be at home.
It’s obvious that the functions are enjoyed by those who want everybody’s presence there, but why are weddings and family functions considered more important than personal happiness/interests of each family member?
The problem (for them) being that she wouldn’t take leave to go for weddings and other family functions. They thought it doesn’t make sense for her to ‘struggle’ so much when they are supposed to ‘enjoy life’ at this age.
Traditionally men have been discouraged from doing anything except ‘bread winning’ 😦
‘Retired men who have no passions or hobbies, who know not what to do with the sudden abundance of ‘spare’ time, and drive their wives crazy (!) and go into depression.’ [Traditional upbringing of boys. – Starry Eyed]
Sharing an email.
I have been struggling with an issue for a while and felt maybe sharing it on your blog might give me some perspective. I would really appreciate if you could share this email on your blog to see what your readers have to say.
My parents have lived abroad for over 30 years and came back to India a couple of years ago after my dad retired. My mother was working as a teacher for about 10 years. She started working, perhaps, when we were in high school and before that she was a stay-at-home mom. When some of her friends started pursuing a teaching degree, she also decided to join. She is now an internationally certified primary school teacher with substantial experience working in an international school.
The issue is that it was my dad’s decision to retire and come back to India. He was ready for a quiet life. However, since they have moved back they have quite a (what I call) boring life. My mom just cooks and cleans and they attend the occasional wedding and family events. They watch some serials at night and then go to bed early to begin the same routine again.
However, my mom is not that kind of a person. I feel very strongly that my mom should still be working. There is no reason for her to live the life of a retired person when she is still willing to work. However, that decision is difficult for her because with my dad at home she feels guilty going out to work.
A few months after they moved to India, I had helped her find a job in a nearby school. The pay was nominal but the school was so excited about having such a qualified teacher. The few months my mom worked, she finished all the work at home, made breakfast and lunch. kept lunch out on the table for my dad and then went to work. She would then be back in time for evening tea.
However, it seems my dad was getting bored home alone because he is really not used to being without her. When the topic came up, our extended family (though they don’t live together but they are all neighbours) also felt that she was spending too much of her time and energy on her job. The problem (for them) being that she wouldn’t take leave to go for weddings and other family functions. They thought it doesn’t make sense for her to ‘struggle’ so much when they are supposed to ‘enjoy life’ at this age. Moreover, none of them understand the idea of working because you want to do something productive and because you love it.
Eventually, she decided to leave the job though she had made a few friends there and the school really tried to convince her to stay.
It’s been almost 2 years since then and it’s been taken for granted by all that she won’t go back to work. But I have this nagging feeling that she is not happy. She is a traditional woman who thinks it’s her job to take care of the house but sometimes when we are talking she will let slip in a very mild manner that she is getting bored. Just to clarify, I live in another city and visit them once or twice a year and my sister lives abroad, so neither of us are really around for her to talk to, take her out etc.
Now my problem is that I feel no one seems to see that there is so much more she can do. My dad is the typical man who will do things around the house if he is asked to. But if he is not asked to do chores he will assume my mom can handle it on her own. And my mom is the kind of person who will never ask him to do chores around the house. She feels strongly that he should do it because he wants to, not because she has asked him to.
I realize that at their age, neither of them is going to change. My mom is not the kind of woman who will put her foot down. And I worry that unless she says something herself, no one is going to take her unhappiness seriously. She is also the kind of Indian woman who thinks it’s ok to be a little unhappy, as long as everything else is ok, because that’s just how life goes.
The obvious solution would be for me to speak to my parents, but the issue there is that I am an infamous feminist and all in my family know it. If I bring this topic up, everyone will think this is just me “being a feminist” and finding problems where there are none. Till my mom herself says that she wants to work or do something productive, no one will take me seriously. And she would never want to ruffle feathers by going back to work, when she knows my dad prefers her to be at home. I can’t think of any other elder in my family who will understand the issue enough to speak to both my parents so that they understand each other’s side of the story.
I know the solution is that my mom needs to stand up for what she wants but we have to remember that women of that generation were never trained to think that way. And keeping that background in mind, I’d really like to hear what you all have to say about this situation. I tears me up to know that she is unhappy and to not be able to do anything about it. How can I get her to be engaged in other things so that she is not so bored/unhappy/demotivated? I want her to feel good about herself and make friends with whom she can have intelligent conversation with. I want her to have something of her own that she has built on her own and is not tied to her life as a wife and mother.